Kim Mealy, director of diversity and inclusion programs with the American Political Science Association said she hopes she can motivate SF State students to increase the presence of minority groups and women throughout the political science profession.
“Political science is a lens through which we can view a diverse collection of current affairs and the decisions of political actors on a global and domestic level,” Mealy said.
Mealy is scheduled to speak Sept. 3 from 3-5 p.m. in Room 268 of the HSS Building at SF State’s Political Science Student Association’s first event of the fall semester, which is free for students.
“My message to SF State students, and what I hope they take away from my speaking engagement, is that the presence of a diverse set of ideas, backgrounds and approaches enhances the effectiveness of problem solving and critical debate,” Mealy said.
Lack of diversity is a significant problem in the political science field that needs to be addressed, Mealy said. Women only make up 29 percent of political science faculty in the U.S. and African American women only make up 1.7 percent, according to the APSA.
Student participation is key to addressing the issue of the lack of diversity in political science, according to Mealy, who encourages students to attend the event and learn more about diversity in politics.
“One of the biggest motivators for many students is meeting and interacting with political scientists who are culturally diverse and learning more about what they do,” Mealy said.
Mealy has been an advocate for diversity and a leader in APSA’s Minority Student Recruitment Program, which is designed primarily for minority students applying to a doctoral program in political science.
“I enjoy mentoring and speaking with students to share information about the many fields within the discipline of political science and what you are able to do with a political science degree,” Mealy said.
Simone Radliff, an SF State senior, political science major and president of APSA, helped plan Mealy’s upcoming speaking engagement, which she said is not exclusively for those interested in political science.
“No matter the major, those values about political values about social equality and justice are for everyone here at SF State,” Radliff said.
Radliff said she shares Mealy’s belief that action is needed to diversify political science.
“If only one part of the population’s interests are represented, then other groups will be disenfranchised,” Radliff said.
Senior Mitchell Wilkinson is a political science major and a member of PSSA, who said he plans to attend the event. Wilkinson said he believes that government needs to reflect the population it serves.
“The world is diverse, and politics and government were created to represent the people, so therefore they should also be diverse in nature,” Wilkinson said.
Marcela Garcia-Castanon, SF State political science professor and vice president of the PSSA, is an alumna of two long-standing APSA programs– APSA Ralph Bunche Summer Institute and the APSA Minority Fellows Program.
Programs and events like these are especially important for college students, according to Garcia-Castanon.
“The purpose of a university is to unite the population and begin a critical discussion about our interactions and impacts on each other,” Garcia-Castanon said.